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Nicole Cramer: Set Decorator
Nicole Cramer is the set decorator for Grey's Anatomy. She has been working on the show for 10 years, she began working during ep 2.03. According to Nicole, the set decorator "creates the environment for the actors." They work closely with the production designer. The production designer designs the set and Nicole's job is to decorate the sets with lamps, pillows, furniture, curtains, plants, etc.
The interview was done on the set of Jolex's (Jo & Alex) new loft apartment. She states how the sofa Karin and her were sitting on is the same white sofa that Jo purchased for Alex's old home that was Meredith's childhood home.
How did you become a set decorator?
In the interview Nicole states that she was a late bloomer in the business. She grew up mainly in Santa Barbara, CA. She was a beach bum that took classes with interests in photography and waited tables for many years. When she was turning 30 years old she went to see the film "Swingers" and for no particular reason she decided that she was going to move to Los Angeles, CA and make movies. Nicole was always very interested in movies when she was little. Her mother took her to many movies growing up even ones not age appropriate such as "The Shining" and "Jaws." At a young age Nicole took a liking to textiles. She states how she always had a different color room and had matching furniture and made sure everything was in its place.
When she got to Los Angeles she went to UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) for film & television. She began taking classes on editing, producing, and when she took a class on production design she fell in love. From there a neighbor asked her to work on his low budget/no budget short film. She had to turn an office into a morgue which she found ironic since it's something she had to do on the set of Grey's Anatomy. Working on his short film she learned how to work with prop houses, and discovered more about the field. The same neighbor just directed his first feature "The Wedding Ringer." He was the person who started her journey. From there she did other student films and independent films. She got with a group of friends that had a small production company and did short films. Then she discovered set decorating, got onto a non-union movie, become a shopper for a decorator, kept working and got to where she is today.
What is your favorite set?
Jolex is one of her favorite sets done in a long time. She had a great time shopping to all her favorite vintage stores. She adds how with being on this show so long she knows all the characters & their lifestyles. She states how her and her shopper Nathan like to create back stories for all the characters and imagine why the character may have bought a particular lamp or pillows. Karin adds that she uses Nicole's sets as her own version of Pinterest.
What are skills needed for your job?
Have to have a character eye, be organized even if it's an organized mess, and know how to make quick decisions. She emphases the need for quick decision making skills by explaining the white couch they were sitting on. She had to make the decision on the sofa in one day.
A fan asked about the lights in the background and she found the design on Pinterest and the construction department built it.
What is your favorite thing about the job?
Her favorite thing is how she gets to be creative everyday and work with fabulous people. She states how it's rare that you get to come to work everyday with a large group of people that all get along. She loves how she doesn't come to work and sit behind a desk all day, she gets to run around, drive around, and shop all day with other people's money.
Do you have a favorite set that no longer exists?
Nicole states that she really loved the Firehouse set that belonged to Cristina and Owen. She also loved the dream house in the woods. She also talks about the Bailey's winter wedding that she poured her love and soul into. She had only 1 week to do that whole set.
Any advice for someone wanting to go in your field?
Go to school. She states you have to learn as much as you can, there is so much to learn. She deals with a lot of art, fabric, furniture, plants/flowers so you want to learn all the terminology associated with each. Try to work with theaters, student films, start talking with production designers and work hard.
Where is the spinal tumor?
The production designer had it drawn up, Patrick Dempsey added to it and that's how it was made. Meredith moved it to the dream house and now Nicole says that she has it somewhere for safe keeping.
Make sure to follow @karingleason for future #GACrewCall news. You can also follow Nicole on twitter @NicoleDecorator. You can also follow my random rants @TheAmandaAponte. Don't forget the periscope sessions are now being held on Fridays. Make sure to watch new episodes of Grey's Anatomy on Thursday nights.